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'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?

Chet W. 05 Jul 99 - 11:48 AM
Margo 05 Jul 99 - 12:02 PM
Peter T. 05 Jul 99 - 12:28 PM
Tony Burns 05 Jul 99 - 12:57 PM
harpgirl 05 Jul 99 - 12:58 PM
Chet W. 05 Jul 99 - 01:09 PM
The Shambles 05 Jul 99 - 01:12 PM
harpgirl 05 Jul 99 - 01:16 PM
Chet W. 05 Jul 99 - 01:16 PM
Big Mick 05 Jul 99 - 01:21 PM
harpgirl 05 Jul 99 - 01:21 PM
Bill D 05 Jul 99 - 01:44 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 99 - 01:45 PM
Chet W. 05 Jul 99 - 02:56 PM
Jeri 05 Jul 99 - 03:03 PM
gargoyle 05 Jul 99 - 03:28 PM
Chet W. 05 Jul 99 - 03:54 PM
Jeri 05 Jul 99 - 04:51 PM
The Shambles 05 Jul 99 - 04:54 PM
05 Jul 99 - 05:20 PM
Barry Finn 05 Jul 99 - 05:36 PM
gargoyle 05 Jul 99 - 06:08 PM
Big Mick 05 Jul 99 - 06:11 PM
SeanM 05 Jul 99 - 06:12 PM
John Wood 05 Jul 99 - 06:40 PM
SeanM 05 Jul 99 - 07:42 PM
John in Brisbane 05 Jul 99 - 09:24 PM
Liam's Brother 05 Jul 99 - 10:32 PM
Indy Lass 06 Jul 99 - 12:21 AM
gargoyle 06 Jul 99 - 01:15 AM
Night Owl 06 Jul 99 - 02:09 AM
SeanM 06 Jul 99 - 02:32 AM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 99 - 03:59 AM
AndyG 06 Jul 99 - 06:09 AM
The Shambles 06 Jul 99 - 06:42 AM
Jeri 06 Jul 99 - 09:57 AM
Bert 06 Jul 99 - 10:11 AM
Indy Lass 06 Jul 99 - 10:16 AM
Legal Eagle 06 Jul 99 - 12:16 PM
Sam Pirt 06 Jul 99 - 01:42 PM
Night Owl 06 Jul 99 - 01:44 PM
Night Owl 06 Jul 99 - 01:50 PM
Liam's Brother 06 Jul 99 - 03:25 PM
Bert 06 Jul 99 - 04:38 PM
Fadac 06 Jul 99 - 04:42 PM
Fadac 06 Jul 99 - 04:46 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Jul 99 - 05:07 PM
The Shambles 06 Jul 99 - 06:56 PM
Chet W. 06 Jul 99 - 07:48 PM
Helen 06 Jul 99 - 07:55 PM
Barry Finn 06 Jul 99 - 08:22 PM
Mudjack 06 Jul 99 - 09:37 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 06 Jul 99 - 09:39 PM
gargoyle 06 Jul 99 - 11:15 PM
gargoyle 06 Jul 99 - 11:27 PM
gargoyle 06 Jul 99 - 11:45 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 07 Jul 99 - 04:11 AM
Divine Wilygoatess (inactive) 07 Jul 99 - 02:54 PM
Divine Wilygoatess (inactive) 07 Jul 99 - 03:14 PM
MandolinPaul 07 Jul 99 - 07:18 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Jul 99 - 07:52 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Jul 99 - 07:53 PM
Paul S 07 Jul 99 - 08:01 PM
Chet W. 07 Jul 99 - 08:42 PM
Night Owl 08 Jul 99 - 01:25 AM
Art Thieme 08 Jul 99 - 01:41 AM
Boarding Party (KC) 10 Jul 99 - 09:32 AM
Boarding Party (KC) 10 Jul 99 - 09:33 AM
The Shambles 10 Jul 99 - 01:57 PM
The Shambles 10 Jul 99 - 02:00 PM
WyoWoman 10 Jul 99 - 02:48 PM
Bill D 10 Jul 99 - 02:56 PM
gargoyle 10 Jul 99 - 10:46 PM
gargoyle 10 Jul 99 - 10:48 PM
Bill D 10 Jul 99 - 11:00 PM
Boarding Party (KC) 11 Jul 99 - 09:15 AM
Chet W. 11 Jul 99 - 12:59 PM
Billy J 12 Jul 99 - 06:26 PM
The Shambles 13 Jul 99 - 06:21 PM
Angus McSweeney 13 Jul 99 - 07:39 PM
gargoyle 13 Jul 99 - 09:00 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Jul 99 - 02:03 PM
Deafboy 20 Jul 99 - 09:44 AM
harpgirl 20 Jul 99 - 11:26 AM
Deafboy 20 Jul 99 - 12:04 PM
harpgirl 20 Jul 99 - 12:50 PM
The Shambles 20 Jul 99 - 01:32 PM
Deafboy 20 Jul 99 - 01:54 PM
j0_77 20 Jul 99 - 07:11 PM
harpgirl 20 Jul 99 - 10:14 PM
deafboy 21 Jul 99 - 09:33 AM
BOOM BOX 21 Jul 99 - 12:05 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Jul 99 - 12:29 PM
BOOM BOX 23 Jul 99 - 08:30 AM
harpgirl 23 Jul 99 - 02:50 PM
one of the crowd 23 Jul 99 - 10:21 PM
21 Aug 99 - 08:34 AM
21 Aug 99 - 08:36 AM
joeler 21 Aug 99 - 10:25 AM
joeler 21 Aug 99 - 10:27 AM
JedMarum 21 Aug 99 - 01:57 PM
Mandochop 21 Aug 99 - 02:29 PM
Frank Hamilton 21 Aug 99 - 06:42 PM
bbelle 21 Aug 99 - 07:16 PM
Lady McMoo 22 Aug 99 - 03:21 PM
JedMarum 22 Aug 99 - 04:22 PM
j0_77 22 Aug 99 - 04:38 PM
Barry Finn 22 Aug 99 - 05:10 PM
Frank Hamilton 22 Aug 99 - 05:30 PM
Barry Finn 22 Aug 99 - 06:16 PM
j0_77 22 Aug 99 - 07:34 PM
MAG (inactive) 22 Aug 99 - 07:48 PM
j0_77 22 Aug 99 - 08:21 PM
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Subject: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 11:48 AM

There is a weekly Irish jam session at a local pub, and the folks there are all generally very nice and good players for the most part. They are very focused and exclusive about what they play sometimes, and one of them made a speech one night about the innappropriateness of rythm guitars in Irish music, but we ignored it and kept playing anyway. Last week only a few showed up, and in conversation between songs, a couple of them were telling about other Irish sessions they go to in nearby cities where, they said, if someone doesn't play well enough they will be asked to leave, or at least to stop playing. I thought, and said, Boy I'm glad they didn't do this when we were learning, or we wouldn't be sitting here now. Where would our education (in the sacred oral tradtion) have come from? I can sort of see their point too, though. Any thoughts?

ChetW.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Margo
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 12:02 PM

Chet, is the jam supposed to be open? I was at a jam and my friend who had brought me did mention etiquette. But he was referring to not playing, say, a rhythnm instrument if someone was already doing so (or something to that effect). It seemed fair to me. But your description sounds like snobbery to me. I suppose if I was one of the ones who didn't like guitar as rhythm, I might try to come to an agreement about when and where we play.......but not so nastily.

Margarita


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 12:28 PM

This is probably irrelevant, but after a lot of years in the arts, I have finally figured out a strange Catch-22, which is that many performers (in theatre or whatever) are incredibly shy and introverted, until they get welcomed or settled, and then they can open up and shine. The catch is that when these people become part of the community, they either forget what it was like when they first started, or, more likely, because they have always been introverts, they have never developed the kind of "inviting in" behaviour that a lot of extroverts take for granted. I think introverts also tend to want to have a situation stable, and when they get into such a situation, they find having new people threatening -- even though the new people may be exactly in the same position that they themselves were in before. I have seen this happen over and over again (not in music, so I can't say anything about that). It is something shy people have to fight against all the time: their lack of ability to help other shy people feel welcome. They are so worried about themselves that they become exclusionary. I speak from experience of both sides, I am bitterly ashamed to say.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Tony Burns
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 12:57 PM

At our folk club we run a monthly session where we encourage the participation of the inexperienced. We do this by making it very clear that we do not want an audience. At the session each person is encouraged but not pressured, in turn, to do a number and ask others to join in or not. It works well and we have seen some people evolve from tentative participants when all are invited to join in to quite confident performers. We have had the odd 'good' player show up and leave because they don't like the beginners. They are likely the ones that go out and start elite sessions.

Back to the original question, "Elite jam sessions? Is it OK?". Yes. There's room for all kinds of sessions and probably a need for each.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 12:58 PM

oh gawd, Chet you have just brought up the issue about which I have been agonizing for the last forty eight hours. In our jam session one of the hosts doesn't like some of the players and doesn't like some of the playing of some of the the participants. We have been playing this jam for more than five years I might add.

The latest attempt to exclude some people was that they made up a rule that there would be an outside circle and an inside circle. No clue as to who should be where except I guess first come first serve, which doesn't address the covert issues at all.

I argued with one of the hosts before this rule was imposed again this last week. Nevertheless, they tried to impose it and I then decided to leave the session and I did with the position that we include everyone who wants to play and be nice to them or agree on an overt set of rules which would address varying levels of ability, instruments, and personal enmity.

My feeling is that above all, being nice to other human beings is important, regardless of their ability level, instrument or personality and if rules are to be imposed they must be fairly and overty imposed.

I was so hurt and disappointed by my close friend's willingess to opt for power over listening and addressing my feelings that I left. I have written a letter requesting that they do things more fairly. If not I will not go back. I think I must stand by my convictions about how to treat people. What do you think?...harp


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:09 PM

I think it's supposed to be open. I was really wondering more about your opinions on the concept. I understand and support etiquette at these things, always have. But I don't like to be exclusive, I don't like to get into anyone else's personal realm, if it really is theirs, and I don't enjoy music that has to maintain it's purity at the cost of others' learning, or others' creativity for that matter. Peter, I think what you say is very relevant. I wouldn't have thought of it that way, but it does make a lot of sense. I guess people should have their little plots of purity to guard, but in art forms that are all about the oral tradition, I think it's not quite right to fail to make people of lesser ability welcome. That's certainly the way I learned; I'll never forget standing, mandolin in hand, with large groups of people at the Fiddler's Grove festival and playing Over the Waterfall for what seemed like an hour. By four or five times around I had it, and it was easier on the next tune. I also remember all-night sessions with such legends as Tommy Jarrell and Ralph Blizzard among many others, and nobody every saying anything about lesser musicians like myself even moving to the edge of the group. I really don't mean to put this particular session down; I like the people and the proprietors are extremely hospitable. If you're ever in Columbia, SC, on a Sunday evening, look up the Publick House on Devine Street. It's all Irish, and is generally lots of fun.

Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:12 PM

Harpgirl.

You are completlely right. The only option open to anyone in an informal session, when they don't like something, is to remove themself.

If the ones that don't like things are not prepared to leave then they should just get on with it and with, whoever is prepared to play with them.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:16 PM

chet...as to the concept of elite jam sessions, sure we should have them. If they are to be elite they should be identified as such so no one is hurt, arbitraily excluded or humiliated...harp


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:16 PM

Two posts came in while I was writing. You're probably right Tony about a need for each kind of session. Unfortunately in Columbia there are not a lot of regular sessions. Harpgirl, I feel your pain. We seem to agree on the issue. I hate for it to get to the point where some people have to leave on principle. Makes us look like a Baptist Church.

Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:21 PM

Great thread. I dislike elite sessions, as I feel I don't fit in. Strange isn't it. I am primarily a singer of songs and rhythm player. I am incredibly well received by audiences wherever I play, but when I get among people with an elitist attitude, I don't feel comfortable playing. I guess, for me, I enjoy a session where the object is the joy one receives when they interpret a song or tune and the audience enjoys it and the musicians enjoyed playing it. I have been in sessions where it seemed the object was to show off ones ability and how superior one is to others. I usually avoid these like the plague. I am just not good enough for this crowd.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:21 PM

...Hell, I know my friends won't mistake me for a church lady...But I rarely protest any bullshit because I am so used to accepting people at face value as a psychotherapist! And I am certainly no angel in the human being department!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:44 PM

it is my considered opinion that players who are very good, or have a narrow focus may well want to have sessions where they do it 'their' way...but those sessions/sings should NOT be public...any event which is advertised, or presumed to be 'open' should be tolerant...yep, I know this is NOT always easy..I have been to events where the dynamics were going great..fine music, good rapport...until some total klutz sits down and breaks the mood with bad timing, poor choice of transition, and just plain weak musicianship..usually, fols are polite...but soon someone discovers they need to find the john, get a drink..etc..and the group deteriorates...there is no easy solution..poor to average players need some sort of example and guidance in order to improve, but we all know a few who NEVER seem to improve..or even be aware of the effect they have..

still, I will almost always vote for tolerance, forebearance, and help when at all possible..

(me..I am right in the middle ..average singer and player, but, I think, one who KNOWS when to play and when to shut up and listen!)


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 01:45 PM

My first instinct is to say that if you're an open session, you should be open to everyone. If you want to be exclusive, then you should start your own group or invitation-only session. The trouble is, I think you lose a lot if you're totally unrestrictive.
Our song circle in Sacramento is open to all, and we make an effort to keep even those who are awful singers. The trouble is, we've lost some of the best musicians from our group because they don't feel challenged. We have fun, but sometimes it seems we can go a long time between those moments when the music is sublime. It's not all that bad - later in the evening, only the die-hards are left, and the music gets good. Still, the situation we have no is not totally satisfying.
What I think I'm going to try is a "workshop" at my home once a month. I'm going to keep it an open session, but I'm going to steal an idea from the Washington DC people and ask people to come prepared to lead two or three songs they've chosen in advance. I may restrict this to songs that the regular song circle doesn't know or doesn't do well. That way, we'll keep our open cicicle, but have a resource for bringing new material into the circle.
While I really like to have quality music, I think it's important for us all to encourage music-making by non-musicians or fledgling musicians. Music isn't just for those who are good enough to get recording contracts. On the other hand, those who have real talent have every right to be able to find sewssions that will allow them to exercise those talents.
I suppose "jam sessions" refers to instruments, not singing - but my instrument is my voice. I'm struggling to play guitar, harmonica, and autoharp - but I'm not ready to use those instruments in anything other than our "slow jam."
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 02:56 PM

You know, giving this more and deeper thought, which always gets me into trouble, I think this phenomenon is one more manifestation of what a friend once described as the "tribal instinct". Humans spent millions of years evolving in tribal circumstances, in which the need to be a part of a whole became a part of our make-up. Then we spent thousands more years living in communities of people that knew each other, worked together, and socialized together. Now that there are no tribes or communities for most of us, we still need them and we tend to create our own. (Look at college football). So anyway, the need to include and be included, or to exclude when we think we should, is probably an older part of being human than we'd like to think. Maybe, besides the good points raised above, this is a part of what goes on at today's sessions and dances. In prehistoric survival days, probably the weakest were driven away so they wouldn't be a burden on the rest. I think that's part of what the whole idea of civilization, and its current highest achievement, democracy, were supposed to solve. But we can't defeat our genes, I guess, even with LOTS of bleach.

Over the top again, Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 03:03 PM

Elite sessions have a right to exist, but I've never encountered one and would probably walk out if I did. It's like keeping your kids locked in their rooms until they grow up and become properly socialized - it ain't gonna happen. I've heard someone complain about someone else's playing, but nobody was about to tell him to stop. A couple of year's worth of sessions later, I've heard the same person comment on how good so-and-so has become.

I don't understand why people would want to exclude others. I was very shy about my playing and it took a long time with people gently egging me on before I'd let anyone hear me. I have a tendency to treat people as I've been treated.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 03:28 PM

It takes steel to sharpen steel.

Practice in your home not public.
Song circles by nature are an open clique.
An "open mike night" in the local pub is open.

It has been my honor, through the years, to sit in a private audience of 30 in a private home where musicians perform their recitals the week before they are on stage.

Some have been solists before international tour.
Stangest was a tuba-piano combo, before the master's recital

Worst was a community choral group whose solists could have cracked the tile in a shower-room. Unfortunately, the entire group had grandoeous opinions of their material and talents. THEY were AWFUL and didn't have a clue.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 03:54 PM

I don't think "practice in your home not in public" is altogether a good rule. Everybody has their own learning style, and, especially with traditional music, there is no better way to learn than by listening, and when the time's right, playing with people who are better than you. Some are perceptive enough to learn very well from recordings, but some are not and not everybody has access to enough recordings. The most God-awful musicians I ever heard playing traditional music were the ones that learned out of books. There are subtleties in any kind of music that cannot be written down. "In public" maybe shouldn't mean on a concert hall stage, but a friendly little pub session can be a wonderful place to learn. Of course, once you do know what it's supposed to sound like, practicing at home is essential.

Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 04:51 PM

Chet, I agree, but gargoyle also said "it takes steel to sharpen steel." You can only learn the basics of the tunes at home, and I'm all for that. When you play in a session, you learn how what is played differs from what's written, how solos work, how to change tempo, how to go from one tune to another, how to play backup, how to not play sometimes, and myriad music-related social skills. If that "practice at home" bit were enforced, no one would ever learn a new tune at a session - "If you don't already know it, don't play."

I fully understand there are "invitation only" sessions, and group practices - no problem. I only object to open session that aren't.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 04:54 PM

I find myself agreeing with Bill D?

Places where players want to get it right should not be public, but in private, or better still on stage, where the paying public will judge their efforts. If a session is held in public then you have to accept whoever comes along and encourage them, whatever their talent. It's about music after all, it's not about control.

I find, like Mick, that it is far more likely that I will be upset by someone who thinks they are a 'star' than I will be with a less than accomplished musician and the 'real' stars, the ones with exceptional talent, I have found to the most generous of all.

I have found myself becoming increasingly less tolerant of those who's ego exceeds their talent and have found myself leaving sessions, for this reason quite a lot, just lately.

A recent example: I was invited to an informal session and told that it was to be mainly songs, OK. I went along and the chap that invited me sang a song, then the next person and so on. The talent was variable, but all of those whilst not playing their own song, were singing or playing along, or at least listening to whoever was.

Except one individual, who I knew from elsewhere, to be a good (but not as good as he thinks he is) singer and guitarist. He did not sing or play along or even listen. About ten minutes from the end of the evening, he took his guitar out, stood in the middle of the room, despite the fact that there were empty seats and played a song, so he said, a chap that he knew could sing with him. His friend did not in fact sing with him and when he finished that song, he then started another, whilst walking across the room to stop singing and talk to those people on the table. All this time, the rest of us sat there politely waiting for him to restart and then to finish. I left him 'holding the floor', at that point.

All of those present were talented enough to do the same thing and entertain the pub on their own, but chose not do so. I felt his behaviour to be an insult to their talent. It is a bit of a trap, if you stay and listen, under circumstances like this, you boost an already over-inflated ego and encourage his scorn of other's skills. If you leave everyone thinks you are the one that is being rude.

No I don't think elite sessions are OK and if anyone there ask you to stop playing, for whatever reason, you should suggest politely that if they do not like listening to your playing, then they take the only option open to them and that they leave. Of course by that stage, the evening would be ruined and you won't want to stay anyway.

I do believe that people like this are in a minority and that there will be even less of them if we are not prepared to put up with them. Let them play to themselves and start your own sessions.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From:
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 05:20 PM

Amen Bill and Joe. Classic example, 4th of July potluck and jam. Various groups scattered about the yard, house, porch. Song writers generally have an area to themselves.

My only instrument is my voice, though that's not saying much, and I tend to find the group that is playing/singing traditional songs everyone can join in on.

As it happens there is a group of three singers who have come the last couple of years. They preform publicly and do great songs and really get the room going and participating. When the song writers lose their "audience" they may be packed up and ready to leave but when they discover this room of great energy and singing they can't resist. They have to do their latest song or one they wrote years ago and hope they can remember. And all the great energy stops. Everyone sits politely and listens, or gradually drifts away.

I don't have anything against song writers, but I just think it is very rude to change the format of a group just to perform. Join in, but follow suit! Penny


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 05:36 PM

This snobbery seems to be taken as the rights of good to great players in their quest to play with those on their own level, BULLSHIT. If it's an open session then everyone plays & all are welcome. I started off playing drum maybe 25 years ago in sessions around Boston one of the few Irish hot beds at the time along with NYC, San Francisco, Philly & the Windy City. Alot of the players were from the old Dudley ST sessions, Joe Durane, Larry Reynolds, Seamus Connelly, Paddy Cronion. When these sessions later went to the old Village Coach House in Brookline Village many of the younger players continued as regulars & brought in the likes of (while touring) the Bothy Band, Silly Wizard, Ossian & what could go on to be a very long list. While all these great players jammed they ALWAYS got those of lesser talent to pull up & not hold back, I was one of those. Seamus Connelly (the great Clare Fiddler) used to call over to take the drum out from under the tabe & let's hear it. These same players still play at the Green Briar in Brighton & still pull those not quite as good out into the light and to find Joe Darane, Seamus Connelly, Johnny Cunningham & Paddy Cronion playing in the same session with the rest would not be far from unusual. If these world class musicians find playing with the not so classy to be the only style then how could one as myself be a snob about it, much less if I did anything but to encourage someone, then I feel as if I would never be worthy of sitting in on a session, EVER, after what I'd gotten from those before me. Barry


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 06:08 PM

If the playing is bad I am one of the first to leave.

I don't tolerate, cell-phone-calls, crying children, obnoxious drunks, or awful music in a public setting.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 06:11 PM

It is wisdom, plain spoken, like that that makes me proud to call Mr. Finn one of my very best cyber friends. Amen Bro' Barry.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: SeanM
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 06:12 PM

It would seem that the word 'open' in 'open session' would define the session as accepting of all talent levels... In my experience, if someone is disrupting the flow of the session, all that seems to be needed is constructive criticism outside of the circle. I've seen a few cases where someone who was probably not ready to be jamming joined in, and one of the older (read:"more talented") players later offered to show them a few tricks, and gave them some leads to practice from... along with an invitation to continue playing in the circle. This gives someone an honest assessment of their talent, as well as the encouragement and resources to keep improving. And by inviting them back, it gives the older musicians a rare treat... watching raw potential refining itself into skilled musicians.
Speaking as someone on the recieving end of this, and is still in the process of 'refinement', if it's done correctly this form of encouragement (along with a degree of encouragement during the session) breeds fairly good feelings all around. I've only ever seen a few people mortally offended by it, and they tend to be the ones (mentioned above) who are convinced that they are god's gift to music, and are unwilling to listen to reason.

M


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: John Wood
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 06:40 PM

The jam sessions we have here in OSLO are pretty unique.
Not only are the musicians at various stages of learning,but they also come from a large number of different countries.
The ``record´´is 38 musicians from 10 different countries,all sitting round playing Irish(mainly)music!!
We've had Irish Bands drop in,that can't believe what they're hearing.
And the point is that EVERYONE is welcome.
If someone comes with a new song,people shut up and listen.Next time they sing it you'll get hamonies creeping in.All great fun....and nobody takes it too seriously!!
We are rather spoiled in many ways.There are several Irish pubs here that feature live music in the weekends.
We have our main jam session on a Saturday afternoon,so if we're lucky,we can have two,or even three Irish Bands join in.......and they do!!No matter how``famous´´they are.We've even had Dolores Keane pull out a flute and join in!!

Greetings John.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: SeanM
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 07:42 PM

I'd like to add my personal favorite experience...

In San Francisco, first Saturday of every month, there's a shanty sing down at the Maritime Museum on Fisherman's Wharf. The few times I've been in the area and managed to make it, it's been heaven...
The only rules seem to be:

  • Songs must be in some way sea-oriented
  • Don't hog the floor
  • Bawdy songs must wait until after the 11 p.m. bell
  • Have fun

The times I've been there, I've seen professional bands that show up with full instrumentation, play one or two numbers on their own, and back up the rest. I've seen adolescents with their painfully cracking voices sing songs in new ways... some of them good. I've also heard some of the most obscure shanties I've ever imagined (5th century BC Hebrew fishing song among others), and gone away enriched from the experience. At no time has anyone ever been asked or criticized for their experience or lack thereof... everyone is made to feel welcome.

My two cents...

M


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 09:24 PM

I've avoided instrumental sessions for a number of years because except until very recently I felt it was like playing with robots - no discussion, no variation, no dissent, no adventure and seemingly no desire to communicate or educate. These 'open' sessions' were far from inviting. I'm off to a small festival this weekend where I hope I can find some human musos

Regards
John


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 05 Jul 99 - 10:32 PM

If you live long enough you see everything!

I've heard 4 bodhran players (simultaneously) play a cacaphony behind one brilliant fiddler and not one, let alone three or four, of them get the idea to stop playing.

I've seen one "potentate from the past" stop a session for 30 minutes with his departure, being purposefully awkward and slow.

I've seen well known players at sessions who seemingly came only to be asked a hundred times to take out their instruments... and who never did. What's that all about?

I've heard lesser singers insist on "matching" great singers song for song.

I've seen great players demonstrate the greatest kindness and patience with younger players.

I've seen great players poke younger players with their bows in the middle of a tune, "Slow down; you're playing too fast; you're missing the point. If you can't dance to it, it's not dance music."

I've been to a hundred mega sessions that never happened.

I sometimes wonder how people can play together at all.

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Indy Lass
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 12:21 AM

I'm reading this thread with great interest. I'm going to be one of those beginners who will be going into a group of musicians better than me and trying to mesh my guitar playing and singing with those who've had more experience doing this as a group. What can I expect? I've always been rather sensitive about my abilities although I've had people tell me I'm good (but I always feel they just sparing my feelings). Can ya'll give me some suggestions on how I should do this without embarrassing myself?


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 01:15 AM

Play

Have Fun

Learn and Share


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 02:09 AM

Isn't an "Elite" jam session also called a rehearsal???


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: SeanM
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 02:32 AM

Nah... rehearsals are for drinking...

The group I'm with has taken to using our level check time with the sound guy as a fairly free flowing jam... Of course, it's not an open session. We're there to do a job, and since we're mostly playing festivals, the music attracts a crowd. We've had a few people come up and ask to play with us later (offstage), and we more than happily let them... you never know what you'll run into... But I guess that what we're doing before the show would qualify as a semi-justifiable 'elite' session.

M


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 03:59 AM

Do you know what I encounter most of the time when I make music with musicians who are better than I am? - poatience, generosity, and encouragement. I suppose there are those that are snooty, but most good musicians seem to really enjoy sharing their gift. I've seen that in song circles I've visited in various places all over the U.S.
I've tried to play guitar for years, but never got very far until I started dating Claudia, who seems to be able to play every instrument known to mankind. Claudia and her friend Marilyn have been playing fiddle, piano, and accordion together for years, and they decided to have what they call a "slow jam" for beginners. I've been playing guitar at the session, and sometimes harmonica or autoharp. Two beginning recorder players have joined the group now. It's amazing the progress we've all make, and how much fun we have. Claudia and Marilyn are far beyond the rest of us in talent, but they've very patient and encouraging. You sure learn a lot faster wehn you play with others.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: AndyG
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 06:09 AM

A true story,
Last night I didn't go to the session I normally attend. I didn't go because the previous week the line-up was;
1 flute
3 whistles
1 fiddle
2 guitars
7 count them SEVEN Bodhrans,
(including mine), and I believe this is a trend , not a coincidence.
My drum didn't get out of the case until after the pub shut, I played one tune and the session ended.
Two of the drummers present didn't stop until they left the session. Three of us sat at the end of the table and drank Guiness.

Now, was I being elitist, courteous, or P'd Off last week ?
How about this week ?

AndyG


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 06:42 AM

annieglenn.

You will never do much wrong, if no matter how good a player you eventually become, that you always look at it as "going into a group of musicians better than me" and that you don't let anything you may read here, or that other's might say, put you off.

Dan.

Thanks for that, have you any more you can list? It was fun and painful reading at the same time, but it may serve a good purpose if we recognise ourselves in the list. I think I came up guilty, more than once.

Observing this behaviour does have it's funny side though, maybe humour is the best way to deal with it? Humour and patience?

It is, as you say a wonder that we make music together at all, but I'm glad we do still make the effort. It is not the same in sessions as in life, it only takes a very small minority to mess everything up for everyone?

I had these words of advice given to me once: "Never play a good tune too fast, as it will be over too soon".

This song was written as a reminder to myself, after a bad night at a bad place. Playing to mainly other performers and their supporters.

Without the song, there's no show.

I saw no storm clouds appear
Is that the sound of thunder I hear?
Or the sound of warm applause?
No, it's just the roars
Of clashing egos and crashing bores

You know you're the best
So why not listen to the rest?
Don't sharpen your claws
Don't join the roars
Of clashing egos and crashing bores

Small fishes, small ponds
They wait for you to go on
They even call out for more
Then join the roars
Of clashing egos and crashing bores

The singers come and go
But without the song, there's no show
How can you sell, what's not yours?
Don't join the roars
Of clashing egos and crashing bores

The bottle may be shattered
But it's the message that matters
So if it washes on your shore
Don't join the roars
Of clashing egos and crashing bores

Roger Gall 1997


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:57 AM

Humility is a good thing to have. It's folk music, for Pete's sake! It's participatory, it's about community and fellowship and feelings, not technical artistry. (Not that technical artistry is bad, just that I don't believe it should be the primary focus of a session.)

I've seen new people sit quietly in the outer part of the circle all night until they worked up the courage to do a song. Sometimes they barely get through it. Sometimes it's amazingly beautiful and moving.

I've seen the floor yielded to a little girl with a new harp and everyone join in on "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

I've sat next to, and chatted with someone a couple weeks in a row before I knew his very famous last name.

There are two 14 year old kids who come to our sessions. One of these is a good classical-cum-folk fiddler who was introduced by her classical-cum-folk violin teacher. The other is a phenomenal concertina player - we routinely have to go searching for our socks after he does a tune. I don't think anyone would have brought them, or they wouldn't have had the courage to play, if this were an "elite" session.

I've never heard anyone - audience or musician - complain about anyone's lack of skill. They sometimes talk about people who hog the floor, act like "stars," or don't know when to stop.

Annieglen - if people tell you you're good, believe them - they can see things you can't. There's more to music than technical ability.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Bert
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 10:11 AM

I've noticed that it's the better musicians who are the most tolerant of beginners.

As for rhythm guitars, my guitar playing is not too good, so when I'm jammimg I always play rhythm quietly. That way it doesn't mess up the session if I fluff a chord.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Indy Lass
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 10:16 AM

Wow--thanks! I will carry these sentiments forth, conquer my fears and encourage other beginners like me. You guys are the greatest!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 12:16 PM

There is a club near us which "prides itself on the quality of its music". I won't go there. It's not because I'm not good enough - which I might well not be, although the people who come to our club seem polite enough about what the trouble and strife and I do - it's because when you start on that road it is the death of participative music. If people come to our club we want them to be valued and encouraged however good or bad they are. I hope, Gargoyle, you can do likewise.

Does anyone remember the line from the TV series "Fame". It was about the use of one musician only and endless banks of synthesisers, but it could have been about those whose only pride is to show off their skill and to try to best the next man. "That's not music, it's masturbation".

No. "Elite" jam sessions are not OK.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Sam Pirt
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 01:42 PM

All the below are only my opinions

First an 'Elite' jam session is an oxysymoron (sorry about spelling!!) or just not possible. The whole idea of playing in a session is to get everyone playing together, no showing off playing loads of unusual stuff, anyone can do that. The track in a session is to stay in the background unless it needs a leader and just put your tune in now and then that everyone will know. Sessions do have different standards and many irish sessions tend to be fast and furious, but if a bigginer walks in I would play something at the level I THINK they are at or encourage them to start one. If you become eliteist you also become insular, inwardlooking and insulting to other musicians who if anything you should be encouraging, after all music is music isn't it?

Cheers, Sam


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 01:44 PM

A quick story...Years ago I used to go every year to the Union Grove Fiddler's Convention in North Carolina until it got too large for me to enjoy. My first year there, I had gone up to one of the performer's booths to purchase an album from them...("The Bergerfolk") They had this "thing" sitting on their table and I asked what it was. The mother of the family told me it was an Autoharp and handed it to me, encouraging me to play it. She got me a chair, and spent some time showing me how to hold it. She showed me three chords and two songs and let me sit beside the booth, fumbling with it. Between and during her sales she would correct my mistakes...ie.."you're not pressing the bar hard enough" or "that's a G7 in there." After a while she told me that I had a "gift" with the instrument and invited me to a small performer's party they were having after the show that night. I was clearly not the only "neophyte" at the party. These people, who were excellent, experienced, accomplished performers (in my opinion) started off playing well known easy songs enough times for us to "get it". We were ALL making mistakes and laughing at ourselves and singing. I have never forgotten the kindness shown to me, and remember it now when I begin to feel frustrated with someone else's "fumbling". To me...it was a "jam" session i.e. the music was shared; the music was ENJOYED; songs were traded; lessons were learned. Common courtesy ruled when to NOT play along. That small act of generosity created another player on the planet. I had similar brief experiences with Joan Baez and Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry when I was first learning to play the guitar. I think "Elite jam session" is a contradiction in terms. Group sessions to PERFECT the technical playing/singing of a song, in my opinion, is really something different and the purpose of the session should be made clear up front..not left to guesswork. I'm sure each of us has a similar story when we first picked up an instrument.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 01:50 PM

Geeze Sam, evidently we were posting at the same time...think of all the space I could have saved, reading your post first and simply saying...."Amen".


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 03:25 PM

The most 'elite' jam session I ever attended was in 1973. Planxty was playing at the Edinburgh Festival and I knew Paul Brady pretty well at the time. After a performance, a few of us went to the flat where some of the group were staying for drinks. Liam O'Flynn and Paul Brady got out their instruments and played tunes together for perhaps an hour straight. There were 5 in Planxty at that time, Paul having just come from NYC to join them. Everyone sat around in amazement listing to the music which was incredibly fluid, rhythmic and impassioned. None of the other 3 (Irvne, Moore and Moynihan) felt inclined to join the others. There was nothing they could have added to it to make it better. That's something to think about! Remember, this wasn't a practice or a performance!

The whole issue of who plays hinges around modesty, good manners and common sense. A really good player who posesses the above will want to play the occasional show piece but will want to play with others most of the time. Likewise, a bodhran player arriving at a session in progress should make contact with the bodhran players who're there already to let them know he'd like to play from time to time as well. When 4 go at it at once, they should be lined up and shot!

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Bert
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 04:38 PM

My late brother-in-Law was a French Canadian. One day a family discussion turned, as family discussions do, to the subject of 'toe jam'. He said that the French language doesn't have a word for jam and called the disgusting stuff 'toe marmalade'.

So this leads me to my question... Do French Canadians have 'marmalade sessions'?

Bert.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Fadac
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 04:42 PM

Sombody made the comment about "book learners". Yup, I are one. I have been playing mostly by my self. And you know what??? It sucks.

You alwise feel like your missing, something. Last friday there was a private jam on a friend of a friends boat. I was told to bring my box, my wife brought her drum. Well, you wouldn't want to make and sell a CD from what we did. But we had fun. (FUN remeber that?) I had brought along my partner in my accordion classes, he had just brought his voice. Anyway he had a ball, and now has a need to learn some sea chanties.

Myself, I feel way to inexperianced to even do an "open mike" type of deal. However a slow jam would be great. Now for a jam with real experianced players, well, perhaps I might try and squeeze out some chords on the concertina, quietly. But I feel that I should be there. I would at least learn timeing and some new techics (sp?) as I wheezed along.

Isn't the jam the most tradional way for people to learn music?

-Fadac


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Fadac
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 04:46 PM

Bart,

The Dutch have no word for glove. They are called "hand shoes" A bit of trivia & thread creep.

-Fadac


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 05:07 PM

The French have in fact no word for marmalade. They call it Orange jam.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 06:56 PM

All this marmalade stuff? More thread spread than thread creep?

John in Brisbane.

As another one who has only been playing instrumental session relatively recently, I do know what you mean.

As a singer/guitar/rhythm player you tend to be used to more flexible informal gatherings. Some of the melody players do seem to understand that it is possible for very skilled players to play along and add to songs or tunes, that they are not familiar with, or ones that are totally new to them. I have been amazed and delighted, on occasions when this has happened with a song of mine that I knew to be unknown to the player. It is rare for this to happen and it is more often that it becomes a bit of a struggle and again the best players know that they do not have play all the time, but generally it is not expected in song based sessions, that every note of the tune be known before a contribution is made.

The best instrumental sessions are the ones that are less rigid and it is hopeful that you do indicate that you have found better ones, recently.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 07:48 PM

I think what we're getting to here is not that we have a good time with one musician or another, but that we have a good time with particular people, of world-class ability or beginner. It is their personalities as much as their music that we find meaningful, and that is what will sustain us, keep us coming back, and make us better musicians over time. The clashes we've discussed here are a matter of good manners (or bad) and interpersonal skills which, as Peter noted early on in this thread, are sometimes difficult for creative people. But very often, and in the cases of the best musicians I have "jammed" with, the very best in people is what comes out, as many of us have related here.

One night in 1976, I went to see the David Grisman Quintet in Atlanta. I sneaked backstage and talked with Tony Rice, who saw me staring at his famous Martin guitar, the one that belonged to Clarence White. He invited me to pick it up and play it, but I only had the heart for a couple of chords before I put it down. That made an impression on me.

I remembered today a story that may be relevant. My musical friends in college, who played together a lot(!), were learning old-time and Irish and such at about the same time, used to occasionally have a party/session that had a rule: nobody could play their own instrument. Some of us made some pretty awful noise, some took an interest in the unfamiliar instrument, but, and this was the point, we had a great time and enjoyed each others' company. And that may be where I learned (not only at the instrument-switch parties, but at all of them) is that if music is not fun, then something is wrong, or maybe we should be doing something else. All of the ones I know of are still musicians, after 25+ years, some became fairly well-known, and I bet they all think back to those parties now and then.

Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Helen
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 07:55 PM

Hi all,

In 1988, when a bunch of us were sitting around having an informal jam session at the local folk festival (which we were involved in) someone suggested having a regular session once a week. We aimed at making it comfortable for beginners but also to make it interesting for more experienced players.

The session is still going, it has had changes of participants, but some of the originals, including me, still go there. I'm the only one who has been going along for all eleven years, although at present I have been busy and I've missed a couple of months.

When we started we had a very good guitarist - a 3 chord wonder - who was happy to play slowly enough for everyone to join in. We also chose to use a core set of songs - approx. 20 - which we found sheet music for and made sure everyone had access to the music. We played the songs in 3 groups - those which could be played in the keys of C maj (or A minor), those in G maj (Em) and those in D maj (Bm) so that the instruments which were not chromatic could be retuned to the new key or so that the lever harp could be set for the new key. It meant that people weren't jumping from one key to another without warning, no-one had to call out in the middle of the tunes saying "What key is this?" which is frustrating when you get no answer, and over time we all got better at this core bunch of songs plus some more which got added as we went along. We also loved it when people started up with a song or tune they had discovered or felt like playing. If we could join in we would, and if not we would sit back and listen.

Because I had learned the basics of guitar playing and knew the main chords by sight I learned to play along on the harp by watching the guitarist's chords. I realised afterwards that I also picked up some of his interesting rhythms by playing along with him.

The session has grown and shrunk and grown at different times - it's pretty small at present and we are trying to revitalise it. However, the core people from the session have formed an amateur bush band and have played for a few dances and concerts for the local folk club, or for church groups etc, so the participants have gained enough experience form the session to get out there and perform in public, and sometimes get paid for it.

When the idea for the band was put forward I was interested but the practice session for the band just ended up being the session, and I was really annoyed because the session was a more relaxed affair, with fun, and an easy-going attitude about how the music was played, but the rehearsals for the band were very serious and focused (as they should be) and so the two outcomes were at cross purposes. Eventually the band practised on a different night, which is why the session group shrank at that time - some people couldn't commit 2 nights per week to playing music, and when the band was leading up to a performance they had even more practice sessions).

My point is that the beginners' session worked beautifully, although it has evolved over time - changed focus, changed format, changed from songs to tunes, to dance tunes, etc etc. The guitarist, understandably, got tired of being relied on all the time to keep the tunes and songs going. It got to the point where we relied on him too much, so eventually he moved out of the session, and that was okay for the beginners because then we had to be more self sufficient.

We have always welcomed beginners, and also seasoned musicians. Some keep coming back, some move on - but on the whole, it has been a wonderful pasttime and I hope it goes on for another 11 years or more.

Helen


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 08:22 PM

Hi Dan, as a bodhran player I take no offense, I give you the gun & the 4 bullets. I used to play sessions 4-7 nights a week for years until became in the family way now it's maybe 1 every couple months. If there were more drummers than was tastefully called, drummers that I knew would nod or make motion that they'd like to join in "could I please have a shot" or "I've just played a couple tunes why don't you jump in for awhile". My old roommate & the only father of my drums used to play (until he got family) alot of the same sessions & we'd go back & forth swapping turns & once & awhile we'd back in behind the other's style & complement the other maybe using a backbeat or one keeping the strong rythnm & the other a soft embellishment. Trouble is when 4 or 7 drummers walk in at once it's a good bet they don't all know each other & the levels of experence most likely will be erratic & 7 drums will never sound as nice as 7 fiddles, 7 banjos...hum. If I sit out most of the night it's ok, a couple or 3 is alright but it is a bummer when a session takes a dive for no good reason, especially since some or maybe even most sessions can be so dam temperamental to start with. You really never know what you're walking into do you? Some nights are diamonds...., with more modesty, good manners and common sense that you mention they'd be far more gems. The singer's session a few weeks ago could've been elite with all the great singers that poured out from the woodwork but that same taste, sense & manners had to've made it one of the best singing sessions I ever witnessed. Some sessions are great few are magical. Most of the other magical sessions I've seen were usually spontaneous ones at a festival or a party.

AndyG, Hi, I've sat at that end of the bar a bit too & I don't even like to drink that much. Don't avoid the session just sit out if they're overwhelming it & in a sensitive way let them know that they're being rude & you won't partake until a little more awareness of each other is evident so that you all can share without hammering nails into a coffin.

Mick, Thanks for the warm backing, still no elite warriors.

SeanM, it's been 20 years since I lived in the Marina area of San Francisco & I really looked forward to those shanty sings, only been back a couple times to visit in-laws so I tried to gear them to the sings.

Barry


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Mudjack
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:37 PM

For those that think a jam should be perfect and elite should keep in mind how perfect by design the asshole is Oh, I guess they already know about that.
Anyone that can rustle up the courage to go forth with their attemps at music deserve a fair shot. When folks gather by invitation only to an "elite" gathering it is usually a show of who has the longest nose. Jam critics or song cops will always be at these gatherings. Tolerating them can be more challengeing than a new pickers and singers.
I've been to invitation only gatherings and was very impressed to be asked thinking that all my practice and efforts have progressed me to the big leagues. It was fun and really good quality of music making, but the rewards of being in a common song circle or jam is truly a better setting. I usually try and feel for the music and watch progress make it's mark. Some folks improve with leaps and bounds and others will always come to a gathering and fumble with their efforts. They usually don't invest prep time to what they present or share and more often than not it shows. But at an open jam or SC, we better be tolerable to all who participate and most of all give support to their efforts.
When you say elite, I expect that to mean by invitation only. There are all levels of gatherings, I know of several that comprize of two or three in their tight little group. It's a practice session and they sound real good like predictable good. No variety and it's done to perfection, by design.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:39 PM

Aw, Gargoyle, I cain't play in yore seshun? --seed


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 11:15 PM

HELL NO!!

You like a DARK-ROOM best!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 11:27 PM

A great memory...it combined professionals who understood their roots and amatuers who loved to play.

1970 - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Small nothern college town - backroad boondocks U.S.A.

Encoure, after encoure after encoure. Wonderful. Pure professionalism.

Concert broke up after midnight....each bamd member went with a different member of the community back to the local home neighborhoods. The playing and jamming, and sharing a laughing went on in little pockets behind the redwood curtain until the break of day.

There is no doubt in my mind why the Dirt Band were first Western group invited to "break the iron curtain."


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 11:45 PM

My most sophomoric and groundless Mr. Seed.

I suggest that you follow this thread and do what you do best....Play With Yourself


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 04:11 AM

Thanks for the link, Gargoyle. Now maybe someone will find it and I won't have to refresh it. --seed


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Divine Wilygoatess (inactive)
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 02:54 PM

Well around here, that would be Pennsylvania...the Lehigh Valley to be more precise we have several jams. On any given night you can find at least one (blues) jam or open mike of sorts taking place. The purpose of the jams around here is for people to get together and have a learning experience. Regardless of your level of skill or how something should be played, all present are very open minded about what is going on. You are given an opportunity to sometimes play with people you have never played with before...regarless of whether or not they are on the same level of talent that you are or whether or not they agree with how you play your pieces musically. You may also be given the opportunity to play with your favorite musician who may be in another band.

Music is about expression, regardless of whether it is the blues, jazz, irish, etc. and the purpose of a jam is just that to jam. If you are jamming by rights you should not be staying within the confines of how a specific song was written, the person playing should be allowed to express themselves no matter how poorly or how well others think he/she (must be politically correct I suppose) is playing.

Around here jams are a place to be able to practice and work out the knots in what you are doing. All involved are supportive and will offer constructive critism and help. It is a place to have fun and to get everyone from all aspects of the culture involved with one another and to network and learn.

If this is not how the jams you are attending run, I would seriously consider finding another jam or open mike to attend. It is my strong belief that this is how a jam should be and no one regardless of how they play or at what level they play should be excluded. That is not what music is about. Music is the universal language, something that everyone can understand and learn from regardless of culture, race, etc. and making it 'elite' would be taking away from that. It brings people together like nothing else in the world can, why degrade that by only allowing certain people to play.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Divine Wilygoatess (inactive)
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 03:14 PM

I have to add as an anecdote. I was a music major in college. Voice, piano, and saxophone. I had an extremely traumatic experience and would not play or sing for quite some time. The jams in my area, along with a little help from my friends (ok that was pretty bad) have allowed me to begin again. I have been getting up and playing, singing etc. Without the supportiveness of the people around me I never would have done it. I love music more than anything. It was also always a dream of mine to play guitar. I have just started recently (have to say I am a rather quick study, impressed even myself) and I have been able to practice and learn from these jams.

Elite jam sessions are more when a band is putting on a show and asks friends or fellow musicians to jam with the band. That is OK. Then it is the choice of the band that is playing...it is their show and they can call all of the shots.

yours, Miss V


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: MandolinPaul
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 07:18 PM

I've read it above, but I'll reinforce it: If you want to restrict the people and content of your jam session, it sounds to me like what you really want is a rehearsal or a gig.

Otherwise, do what you can to help others out; that way everybody has a chance of enjoying it.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 07:52 PM

Seems to me the open/restricted jam question is essentially like the folk/S-SW question... It's a matter of advertising. Clearly, there's a place--or should I say a need-- for reasonably accomplished musicians to get together and play socially. ANd there's no problem with this if they don't promote it as an open jam (and hopefully don't flaunt their exclusivity). A truly open session is a difficult place to work out more than very simple things. On t'other hand, an open session is just that: open. Both have their function.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 07:53 PM

Seems to me the open/restricted jam question is essentially like the folk/S-SW question... It's a matter of advertising. Clearly, there's a place--or should I say a need-- for reasonably accomplished musicians to get together and play socially. ANd there's no problem with this if they don't promote it as an open jam (and hopefully don't flaunt their exclusivity). A truly open session is a difficult place to work out more than very simple things. On t'other hand, an open session is just that: open. Both have their function. It's a pain to attend one type of gathering and to find out that it's really the other type.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Paul S
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 08:01 PM

You can say that again, Dick!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 08:42 PM

Once more to be sure, Dick?

Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Night Owl
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 01:25 AM

Geeze, Dick.....we was just having a discussion...no need to be gettin' so upset!!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 01:41 AM

Mega dittos, Dick.

Love,

Rush


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Boarding Party (KC)
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 09:32 AM

In all the discussion of aperture (open/closed, restricted/unrestricted), I'm surprised there was no discussion of speed (fast, slow).

There are instances of communities evolving genre-focused (celtic dance music, bluegrass) "slow" jams. Some thoughts on those.

The opposite of slow, as in slow jam is not fast, just better.

Slow jams not only remove irritants from "better" jams but provide a non-threatening, non-imtimidating forum for learners or those of us who will NEVER get there.

They can be fun and congenial and less intense than a full session.

By definition, slow jams allow any number of players of any combination of players to play at the same time.

There is no known antedote to the tendancy of slow jams to play loud. Softness seems to come with mastery.

For players who are capable of doing both, slow jams are (and should be) different. They are not about stretching musical envelopes and" getting tight". They are about coaching, mentoring, cajoling and passing on - all fun things to do.

One of the things slow jams do is SPAWN smaller more accomolished jams in the form of new groups of the more accomplished members. Some group members may still come to the slow jam, scheduels and commitments permitting. In barershop circles [www.spebsqsa.org], this is the basic process that turns a chapter's chorus of assorted voices into individual quartets. Its called "woodshedding" as in "After the chorus rehearsal, lets us four get together in the woodshed to work on some tunes."

A good way to start a slow jam is to go round the outer circle of a "better" jam whispering "My place, Thursday" in the ear. Give directions or better yet your very own computer-made brochure explaining your concept, to perfect strangers.

I've followed this path for a number of years in a number of places in a number of genres and it seems to work [sometimes].

Slow Jams Rule! KC


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Boarding Party (KC)
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 09:33 AM

In all the discussion of aperture (open/closed, restricted/unrestricted), I'm surprised there was no discussion of speed (fast, slow).

There are instances of communities evolving genre-focused (celtic dance music, bluegrass) "slow" jams. Some thoughts on those.

The opposite of slow, as in slow jam is not fast, just better.

Slow jams not only remove irritants from "better" jams but provide a non-threatening, non-imtimidating forum for learners or those of us who will NEVER get there.

They can be fun and congenial and less intense than a full session.

By definition, slow jams allow any number of players of any combination of players to play at the same time.

There is no known antedote to the tendancy of slow jams to play loud. Softness seems to come with mastery.

For players who are capable of doing both, slow jams are (and should be) different. They are not about stretching musical envelopes and" getting tight". They are about coaching, mentoring, cajoling and passing on - all fun things to do.

One of the things slow jams do is SPAWN smaller more accomolished jams in the form of new groups of the more accomplished members. Some group members may still come to the slow jam, scheduels and commitments permitting. In barershop circles [www.spebsqsa.org], this is the basic process that turns a chapter's chorus of assorted voices into individual quartets. Its called "woodshedding" as in "After the chorus rehearsal, lets us four get together in the woodshed to work on some tunes."

A good way to start a slow jam is to go round the outer circle of a "better" jam whispering "My place, Thursday" in the ear. Give directions or better yet your very own computer-made brochure explaining your concept, to perfect strangers.

I've followed this path for a number of years in a number of places in a number of genres and it seems to work [sometimes].

Slow Jams Rule! KC


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 01:57 PM

KC King.

Running at pretty much the same time as this thread was another, on the subject of Etiquette For Slow Jams, which may be of interest.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 02:00 PM

This is the link I was trying to do. Click here


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 02:48 PM

Hey, wait! WE've got another KC... I'm going to change my name before this gets confusing.

Re. the jams: Humility, grace, class and generosity are always called for, regardless of the arena. And when those are all present in a musical endeavor, it's pure heaven. (And why it's so easy to fall in love with musicians!)

Since I've moved to Wyoming, I've met several people through the various kinds of music I do. I started a jam after I'd been here a few months because I missed my musician friends from New Mexico, and because I didn't see anything similar around. A few of those people are still my good, good friends, and they've introduced me to other musical gatherings and other friends. I've just started playing guitar and am ... well, I suck ... . But what always moves me is how willing the more establshed musicians are to show me a new chord, or slow it down a little so I can sort it out, or play songs in keys I know. Not that they devote the entire jam to that, but they are willing to take the time and invite me into the music making. (And I do the same with singing, when anyone wants to try a new harmony or whatever)

What HASn't worked has been the people who only want to do bluegrass and have no interest in any other kind of music. (This is being discussed on another thread, so I wont' go into it here). But the upshot is that these people also haven't become my friends as the other musicians have. Their exclusivity isn't limited to their music. And I really don't have time to, nor interest in, trying to "make it" with people who set up too many barriers to my participation.

On the flip side, I do try to be more aware and sensitive to the way things happen in a jam or song circle, so I go with the flow, rather than galloping in and being a bull in the musical china shop -- a sin of which I probably was guilty when I first started. (But then, I didn't have anyone to 'splain to me how things were done. As soon as someone said, "We go around in a circle and you can say whether you want accompaniment and/or harmonies..." then I knew what was expected and did it.)

KC, who shall soon become WyoWoman

(How do I go about changing my name for Forum purposes, anyone?)

PS -- Helen, do you still have that list of 20 songs and the sheet music? I'd love to get a copy. As I said, I'm just learning to play guitar and it would be great to have a selection in those particular three keys. You can email me at kcompton@trib.com if you see this.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 02:56 PM

WyoWoman...you gotta go to the top of the threads page and click on 'profile'

and hello to K.C King, (a former Wash DC folkie, who has appeared on several albums as a member of "THe Boarding Party")...see Folk Legacy pages

You still in New Orleans KC?..how's it going?


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 10:46 PM

Hell, KC.... aka WyWoman....

What happens if I decided to become "WyWoman" also?

Ain't there such as thing as "squatter's rights" or are you so easiler displaced because of a "meek temperment?"

Coming from the bad-lands of New Mexico....I doubt that "meek" is your temperment.

I once hailed from Raton/RedRiver areas....from whence did you gather your kindred?


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 10:48 PM

Oh - Crud

I have been guilty of "thread creap."


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 11:00 PM

try to say "thread creep" three times in a row quickly


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Boarding Party (KC)
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 09:15 AM

To tidy up lose ends.

Sorry about casually jumping into an established session without checking to see if my "handle" was in use. Something a archtypical bhodran player might do. Is music a metaphore for life? Or vice versa?

Bill,

New Orleans has a fair bit of Irish session stuff and a wee bit of old timey tunes but NOT MUCH SINGING that I've found yet. Is it something about the South that breeds folks who consider it impolite or un-genteel to sing on choruses? Still looking and hoping.

TOKC (The Other KC)


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 12:59 PM

Thread Creep Alert! Audience participation thread coming.

Chet


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Billy J
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 06:26 PM

This is very serious discussion but there is room for both, I run a session in our local pub in Co Antrim and we welcome all musicians good or bad as dont forget music is supposed to be fun, when it stops being fun and we think we are too good to play with learners, best pack it in as we have forgotten the times a good musician helped us along the road. I'm not a particulary good musician and even after many years i still get help. Patience and charity would seem to be lacking in some musicians. We run a Folk night by invitation only in order that no one feels excluded and this is run on the lines of a big gig.

Billy J Antrim


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 06:21 PM

Billy J.

I don't want to be picky, as I agree very much with all of what you say, but you lost me on the last bit.

Don't the people that do not receive an invitation, feel excluded?


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Angus McSweeney
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 07:39 PM

Where I live (Minneapolis) we have a little place called the Homestead Pickin' Parlor that offers a back room for jams most nights of the week. The way they get around this "elite" issue is by amending the title, such as "folk music - beginners" etc, substituting the appropriate level, (i.e. intermediate, advanced) on different nights. Anyone is welcome to attend any gathering, but you have a better idea what the level will be. But in my opinion snobs and elitists exist at all levels of expertise and never add anything positive to a good folk jam. Personally, I consider myself a pretty fair guitar player...and since none of you can hear me I'm comfortable with that statement. But I have always found it fun and challenging to play with those who are not quite so far along...a like to add a few grace notes in the background or a stronger hint of rhythym than the player is capable of...something that takes nothing away from the performers arrangement but helps improve the overall sound a little bit. An if the so-called "elitists" are as good as they think they are, they should try a little patience and see if they can rise to the occassion.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: gargoyle
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 09:00 PM

BILLY

KUDOS, Dittos, Bravos and Accolades!!!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Jul 99 - 02:03 PM

A long time ago, in another ethnos... Pro and semi-pro musicians would occasionally get together to bounce musical ideas off eaach other. THis was not a reehearsal...few of them played as a group elsewhere; it wasn't an "open jam"...simply because it wasn't open. It gave accomplished musicians a chance to expand musical horizons. And it's a practice that, IMO, is sorely missed.

By me, at least.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Deafboy
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 09:44 AM

There are 3 kinds of musicians at our session, which has been happening for 5 years now.

1)Players who practice in there home and meet to exchange tunes, play music, and have fun.

2)Musicians who have learned about 5 tunes, don't practice at home, can't keep up, but continue to insist on considering themselves an equal member of the session because the beer is free.

3)Musicians/attention starved singers who don't really know the music at all, but want to sing because there's already an audience, but, for the most part just sit, talk, and make noise the whole time.

Do you know how many musicians show up to our session on most nights? At least 20!! Twenty musicians. There is absolutely NO WAY 20 musicians can sit in 1 big circle and hear each other. There must be 2 circles. Unfortunately for the inexperienced, they end up in the outer circle, but, although the experienced wouldn't mind it, the only people that have a problem with 2 circles are the inexperienced musicians.HEY!! Pay your dues, sit in the back and learn the music, or don't come!If you remain inexperienced for many years, it's because you don't practice, but you're only embarrassing yourself by standing up and threatening the experienced players that if they don't let you in the main circle, you're not going to come to the session.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 11:26 AM

Anyone have any more feedback for Deafboy....Sweety my feedback is the same as it has been. I don't want to play in sessions with people with elitist attitudes about making music...making music with one's friends is supposed to be fun...when it stops being about fun and starts being about how good one must be to play with us really accomplished musicians, then I vote with my feet and that is what I have done. Good luck! harpgirl


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Deafboy
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 12:04 PM

I'm sure they'll miss you.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 12:50 PM

...probably not. Power is more important to these folks than concensus...harpgirl


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 01:32 PM

Harpgirl.

I take from your tone that the position re your session has not improved?


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Deafboy
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 01:54 PM

Dear harpgirl,

If you don't like these people at your session, are there other people that feel the same way? Why don't you form your own session with the people you like, and then it will be the social atmosphere that you're looking for.

I think the harp is a great instrument to have at a session and is, often better than guitar. I wish we had one at ours. We have had one a few times, and she was a great player, but people nudged her to the outside due to the size of the instrument. I don't know how good a player you are, but that might me your problem. She didn't really care, though, she just kept playing and lead on many a tune.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: j0_77
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 07:11 PM

My 10 cents - seein as it is Irish music sessions that are givin problems - Back before Joe Cooley and the Chieftans (Notice the Bothy band etc followed the arrival of the Cheiftans) Trad was played in a sorta back kitchen style by folk who learned it at home (Ireland) - the best players all ended up overseas - If you turned up at one of those gatherings with a Guitar they would have fussed over your arrival! In those times they were largely ignored except for occasional 'nights' The Irish overseas were listening to Buck Owens, Beatles etc. The Folk clubs/bars were playing the Blues!

If you are ever in my neck of the woods - welcome will you be to play any way you like :) If you've a fiddle I will second for ya - if you are learning I will help ya - if you've a Guitar I'll scratch out a few Long Dances on da violin or the melodian or what ever - if you wanna boogie (I love boogie woogie) I will do a bass player impression -a student of the bass


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 20 Jul 99 - 10:14 PM

...that's the spirit jO_77...
No problem Shambles...I'm just morphing into something else musically I guess... actually , Deafboy, I'm getting bored with that session after five or six years...I'm back to playing with Art's favorite sideman...six different Irish groups in a session all trying to be the best is a bit much!!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: deafboy
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 09:33 AM

Ya know, harpgirl, you're right about that. These big sessions due kina turn into a big "Battle of the Bands"


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: BOOM BOX
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 12:05 PM

OOOOOOOEEEEEEEEE = CONTROLL IS THE NAME OF THE GAME. SEEMS TO ME THAT THE POWER HAS BEEN RELINQUISHED TO JUST A FEW PEOPLE. DID SOMEONE DIE AND LEAVE THEM IN CHARGE. ARE THERE OTHERS WHO ATTEND THE SESSIONS THAT FEEL PUT OUT WITH THE SITUATION ? "NOT MY CUP OF TEA." SEEMS THERE ARE SOME OPTIONS. = = = = = = = = = = = = 1.stop attending 2.take controll and be more accomidating to others 3.if it's in public, there is power in #'s 4.is it a private club or establishment, if so, the proprietor may need to step in. 5.perhaps some feedback from Ireland itself would be in order. they might have some "FIRST HAND INFORMATION" on how to maintain and nourish entrest in traditional irish music, and comment on the world wide beliefe in Irish hospitality, friendliness and consideration of others


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Jul 99 - 12:29 PM

For some reason, this thread seems to concentrate on Irish sessions as the model for a jam session. IT ain't necessarily so. Irish get-togethers have their own rules, which seem to be focused on everyone playing melody in unison as fast as possible, with the exception of bodhran players who are doing something else.

The jam sessions I think of are those that involve string-band music, blues and any other form of music in which improvisation is an important part. And for these types of music, a so-called "elite" session can be a real bit of advanced education for musicians who can handle it. Sure, there's a place for open jams; slow jams and even (I guess) for breakneck velocity jams, but a jam that puts a group of competent musicians together in a setting where it's possible to listen to what the others are doing is a neglected form of get-together that can produce some fine music.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: BOOM BOX
Date: 23 Jul 99 - 08:30 AM

LET'S HEAR IT FOLKS. WE NEED MORE FEEDBACK ON THIS TOPIC. I BELIEVE THERE IS A MESSAGE TO BE SENT HERE.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: harpgirl
Date: 23 Jul 99 - 02:50 PM

...I'm on my coffee break, boss!! Honest!!!
Welcome to our forum, Boom Box. Capital letters are generally considered to be shouting and are used judiciously...but perhaps you are shouting my friend?
It appears as though Mudcatters have had their say on this issue and it has begun to slip down (were it not for my post). Your ideas seem good. Why not execute the best ones? I personally would vote for a group discussion and vote on such an issue if that were possible. But I get discouraged when people ignore my feedback, since I consider my free advice to be as good as my paid advice! Goodluck at your session! I will be in the woods alot more it seems...harpgirl


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: one of the crowd
Date: 23 Jul 99 - 10:21 PM

Harpgirl's comments are on target. i know the seisiun of which she speaks. my experiences from many a seisiun in ireland tell me that, there, at least, a seisiun is a social event where the comon denominators are enjoyment of the music and conviviality. there is no other apparent standard. musicianship varies widely, as does instrument mix and tune/song mix, from place to place and from nite to nite in the same place. variety.

an issue i've not seen discussed here yet is the publican's view. The free beer for players is made possible by the listeners who buy their own beer. when a seisiun becomes overly anal retentive, beer sales go done. when they go down far enough, the party's over. thus, lighten up and enjoy the music AND the people. it's only in your own self interest.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From:
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 08:34 AM

refresh for reference


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From:
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 08:36 AM

refresh for reference


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: joeler
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 10:25 AM

Every group I have ever joined throughout the years always has a political element in it. The power elite so to speak. They love to tell the group how great they are in many different ways even it involves sacrificing a newer member for the benefit of their ego. I think you might have this problem in the Elite' jam sessions case. Screw them all. Play wherever and whenever you want. Impress yourself with your talent, that's what it's all about.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: joeler
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 10:27 AM

I just had to be number one hundred on this baby.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: JedMarum
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 01:57 PM

I think it's really simple: open jams are open. everyone is included, everyone is encourged to participate, all levels work together. At these sessions the point is the joy of singing and playing - ALL particpants are equal at that level. The seasoned pros will gain just as much out of these sessions as the beginners. The obvious advantage to the beginner is the chance to play with others. The less obvious advantages to the seasoned pro include making others sound good, teaching others (I've always found teaching a LEARNING experience), and even hearing new arrangements.

Elite sessions? Well they have a term for those; rehearsals - or on-stage jams. Elite sessions are private, and have different purpose. I think you'll find the session snobs are not the really good players.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Mandochop
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 02:29 PM

Chet, In my experience, especially in Irish sessions, there are a few unspoken rules you must follow when participating in a session. In reference to beginners, you should really know if you are a beginner and try to stay away from sessions which are too fast for you or the tunes are "elite". There are plenty of beginner sessions out there. However, it goes against all session etiquette (in my opinion) to ever ask anyone to leave a session because of their inexperience. It's the same way with beginners as it is with children. Their musical growth should be encouraged, and asking them to leave a session achieves the exact opposite. A session can always be slowed down for a few tunes to accomodate a beginner. A problem developes when the beginner doesnt realize that the session is being slowed down specifically for them. This produces an awkward situation in which the more experienced players tend to stop coming because the session is too slow, and "elite" sessions develope. In summation, beginners: know your limits and dont take over a session, and more advanced players: encourage the musical growth of beginners as far as you can.

Rob


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 06:42 PM

I have an opinion. I consider this to be an extremely "unIrish" response. The real Irish are magnanimous and encouraging to anyone who desires to forward the "Tradition". The Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann would not abide such exclusive nonsense. This being said, the Irish are generally quite musically sensitive and outsized egos are not tolerated in the culture. In Ireland, humility is prized if it is genuine.

I really dislike exclusive clubs in music.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: bbelle
Date: 21 Aug 99 - 07:16 PM

I've been avoiding this thread ever since it began because to use the word "elite" in a folk music atmosphere is an oxymoron. Even though I've played guitar for over 30 years, I don't play well with others because I've always been a single act. Also, my major strength is my voice and I learned guitar to accompany myself. I've never been comfortable even considering going to a jam session because I've always been afraid of someone raising eyebrows over my playing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a terrible guitarist. Mainly, I don't know how to play in a group. I think that instrumental musicians do have a tendency to manifest an elitist attitude because I've met quite a few over the years. I find this to be almost non-existent in vocal musicians. Personally speaking, if someone's singing is not on a par with mine, I would never try to "crowd them out" or call for an "elite" session. I encourage everyone to sing because the more then sing, the better they will become. And, as most of us know, sometimes it can be "trying." It takes courage to sing (or play an instrument) in front of your peers and this courage should be recognized by encouragement and patience not by dismissal. That being said, I'm going to a bluegrass session tonight and it's mustering up all the courage I got, folks! I just hope they do some singing too! Oh, well ... it's mostly men so all won't be lost. (She says with a laugh and a twinkle in her eye ...) mc aka moonchild


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 03:21 PM

Just came across this thread and very interested as it is one of my real hobbyhorses! As someone who has been playing in Irish sessions for some 30 years on a variety of instruments I cannot abide "elitism" in sessions. The truth is that nearly every time I play I learn something new, often from so-called "inexperienced" players. In seventeen years playing in one well-known session in London I never saw one person turned away, asked to leave or criticised. On the other hand, I have sometimes been cold-shouldered by "insiders" in new sessions I have been to and it doesn't feel good and certainly makes me even more sensitive to the feelings of learners. Basically it all boils down respect for others and good manners. These days, if I detect "elitism" in a session I don't bother going back.

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: JedMarum
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 04:22 PM

mcmoo - good comments. I make the rounds of the sessions about town, and enjoy each for its speciality. I have seen the 'insider snub' tendencies from time-to-time, but rarely. The one session I attended where some regulars asked lesser talented individuals not to participate ... is the one session to which I will never return. I am a well rounded, seasoned player, and fit well with just about any jam, and am usually welcomed for that reason ... like you I find that I learn something from each session no matter what the experience level of the indivuals. Snobbery has no place in a jam session!


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: j0_77
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 04:38 PM

Well geez guys we keep goin over the same ole ground !!!

Frank Hamilton - you are a star - nailed it down right away - fair play to you - There ought to be an Irish Group including folk like Frank and Mr McMoo (I hope your read this! My email is)

qtech@ionet.net

Pulease drop me a note so we can commuicate.

I played since I cannot recall when - Trad etc., and everything McMoo says is Gospel. The Irish do not practice 'elitism' maybe these sessions are by and for some other 'entity' but -_READ THIS - those who do that are giving the Irish a bad name.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 05:10 PM

Sorry to spoil the pure image. The Burren just outside of Boston has a session every night, it's owned & run by two very good Irish musicians from Ireland this is a very elite & an insider session, most who attend are very good if not excellent, I can't stand it because they turn off any non Irish born singers no matter their level & they don't think that a bodhran (there may be other pet peeves but at this point that's enough for me to stop counting) is an instrument. They also hang miks from the lamp that hangs from the ceiling that hangs over the small central table where only the 4 or so elitest sit. I go maybe once a year & then I remember why I shun the place. This is not just my take so I don't think I have a slighted view & this has to be the worst of this type that I've been in, in the past 20-25 years. Barry


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 05:30 PM

Barry Finn,

Might I recommend that you attend the Hannafin/Cooley branch of the CCE for sesiuns? I lived in Boston for a while and I think that what you describe is more of a local problem than an Irish one. Whenever and wherever in Ireland we went, we were received hospitably. Sure, there may be one or two bad apples. But music is meant to be shared and the Irish are committed to this idea. Talk to Larry Reynolds up there and he would be most happy to find a congenial sesuin spot for you. He and Seamus Connally have been running sesiuns for years and they have a most welcoming attitude. Cead file failte is the motto of the best Irish sesiuns.

Slainte,

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 06:16 PM

Hi Frank, you're right on target. I've been playing off & on with Larry & Seamus for over (since the eary Coach House Days) 20 years & you couldn't find a more welcoming group in a session that has more love & talent anywhere on earth. It was Seamus that kept at me to pull my drum out from under the table & both he & Larry would always call on singers & dancers & story tellers to make sure it stayed well rounded. Their sessions were always consider by hot shots to be a mid level session but as I said above this was where you could not only hear the love of the music but could really see the love of it & if the worlds best didn't care if it was hot shot then why would I. To them I owe my respect for how I play with others be they better or not. I last I saw of Seamus about a yr or two ago at a concert at the Museum of our Natural Heritage, his dancer didn't make it & he asked if I'd sit in with him for a few tunes. I'd refuse Seamus nothing in this world so I joined him when he asked & he gave me such a lovely & warm intro as if I were the star yet it was my honor to return some of the love of the music he had helped to instilled in me.
Frank I still drop in on their Monday night session when I get the chance (not near often enough) my point was that their are snob sessions but there grows no love of the music there & then there's a lack of a good ttime.
See my July 5th post in this thread.
Barry


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: j0_77
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 07:34 PM

The only thing bout 'elitism' that recommends it is this - it keeps those eejits busy while the real musicians poularise the art.

The Burren - the what ??? Ass's head ass's butt ass's session.

He haw.

T'would be cruel to send some of todays genius Trad players there but it could be arranged. --- . only thing bout that is twould make the place famous. On the other hand the donkeys might wake up.

The Sleeping Donkey - A BAR FULL NUFFIN - The Burren - A Place of torture by 'cran' and decorated slightly musical sounds. They probably never got 'it' on in their entire lives - and NEVER WILL. *BECAUSE* they can't listen to anything other than themselves.

Do print this out and give it to em.


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 07:48 PM

Jeez, you guys are making me homesick for the city -- any city -- again.

I was getting people out to our song circles for awhile here; one hotshot in our "society" told me I was singing "deportee" "wrong." I snapped back that that was the was I had learned it, and he seemed suitably embarrased. The circles trailed out; I found myself driving 60 miles tothe nearest song circle, in Tri-Cities, once a month on a Sunday afternoon. What a great group! And Mudjack has mentioned running into me at the Portland Monday night song circle.

this is the same guy who is not as good of a dance caller as he thinks he is, and has had the temerity to pull dancers off the floor at one of our dances. The board (finally) reacted to that. and he once condescended to our volunteer house band so badly they almost quit.

Ach! Oh, for the city, and choices.

Someone else is taking a shot at reviving our song circle this fall, and I'll go. and if this control freak even begins to imply he knows more about singing folk songs than I do (hah!) he is going to get it.

Boy, it felt good to vent. Thanks.

MA


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Subject: RE: 'Elite' jam sessions? Is it OK?
From: j0_77
Date: 22 Aug 99 - 08:21 PM

nuttin like the real mc coy refresh


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